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Exam Development Process

The FDHRC™ uses various staff, committees, and working groups formed by dental hygiene subject matter experts (SMEs) who have current knowledge of curricula in Canadian dental hygiene education, various clinical settings, community health, and administrative settings from all regions across Canada.

They perform the following exam development functions:

  • Item Writing: The FDHRC™ owns a large bank of examination items that has to be refreshed constantly. FDHRC™ Item Writers are responsible to develop new items for the NDHCE™ Item Bank. This is done through face-to-face item-writing training sessions facilitated by a representative from the FDHRC™ Testing Agency and staff. Participants learn how to develop multiple-choice items using secure online item writing software. The items produced then undergo a series of review steps before they appear on an examination.
  • Group Reviews: All items newly written undergo a group review before they can be sent for item appraisal. These group reviews are also facilitated by a representative from the contracted Testing Agency, and they are either done face-to-face or virtually.
  • Examination Committee: This senior FDHRC™ operational committee is responsible for the final review of all examination items. Through the help of the contracted Testing Agency, the committee is responsible for DH competency-based blueprint development, exam monitoring, and standard setting for the exam.
  • French Focus Group: This group of bilingual SMEs is responsible to review and validate the translation from English to French of the examination; this translation having first been conducted by the FDHRC™ official translator.

How can I get involved?

Anyone interested can submit their name and expression of interest to the FDHRC™ providing they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Registered/licensed in good standing with a Canadian dental hygiene regulatory authority.
  • Already holding the NDHCE™ Certificate.
  • A minimum of 5 years current experience.
  • Current knowledge of the curriculum in dental hygiene education is an asset.


What Competencies Does the NDHCE Evaluate?

The examination is developed to measure an explicitly defined content area, which consists of the competencies in dental hygiene practice (Dental Hygiene Process (DHP)): Assessment & Diagnosis, DHP: Planning, DHP: Implementation, and DHP: Evaluation). These competencies, and the guidelines and specifications that outline the way they should be measured on the examination, are presented in the NDHCE™ Blueprint.

The examination passes through several steps to ensure it reflects current dental hygiene practice, and is professionally and psychometrically sound. Dental hygienists working in the different dental hygiene environments provide the content expertise. Professional consultants facilitate the development process and provide measurement expertise.


NDHCE™ Blueprint

The FDHRC™ publishes a Blueprint for all the NDHCE. The Blueprint lists all of the competencies (knowledge, abilities, skills, attitudes, and judgment) that are tested on the examination. Although the Blueprint was not developed specifically for study purposes, it does provide valuable information about the examination content, the examination format, types of questions, and those competencies which are tested most frequently.

Approximately every 5 years, a competency review is conducted to develop/update the Examination Blueprint. The competencies identified in the Blueprint are the fundamental components of a criterion-referenced approach to testing; the comprehensive description of the content domain being measured, in this case, competent entry-level practicing dental hygienists. The competencies form the basis of the examination.

The competencies in the Blueprint are developed by dental hygiene SMEs who have current knowledge of curricula in Canadian dental hygiene education, various clinical settings, community health, and administrative settings from all regions across Canada, using National practice standards, and categorized according to the Dental Hygiene Model of Care. These SMEs also determine the relative importance and the frequency attached to each competency, based on their own experience, the results of a survey administered to dental hygienists across Canada, and the input of Canadian regulating agencies, as well as other stakeholders, in the process.

The Examination Blueprint is updated approximately every 5 years.

Territory Acknowledgement

The FDHRCTM office stands on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation. The Algonquin peoples have had a special, reciprocal relationship with this territory since time immemorial, and this relationship continues today. The FDHRCTM recognizes without qualification the inherent lands and territory rights of the Algonquin peoples as articulated in Section 35 of the Constitution Act of Canada 1982, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which is enshrined in various legislation in what is now commonly called Canada.

See the FDHRC’sTM full territory acknowledgement here.